Ultrahuman copies Oura – a new lawsuit

Oura Ring Takes Legal Action Against Ultrahuman Ring Over Alleged Copying

We discussed on this site a while back some legal action that Oura took against Circular over its ring product and how the latter might have infringed Oura’s intellectual property. Elsewhere on the net, commentators could be paraphrased to have said that Oura can’t patent “the ring” even if a court might find it differently.

Oura Invented The Smart Ring in 2016 – will court case prove it?

The case against Ultrahuman is materially different and even in my non-legal eyes, appears to be a devasting indictment of Ultrahuman’s product and business practices. I’ll start with the basic legal premise which is that 5 infringements are made, namely:

  • COPYRIGHT: Landscape Design
  • COPYRIGHT: 3D Ring Image
  • COPYRIGHT: Copyrighted User Interface Design
  • PATENT: Ultrahuman is accused of infringing on U.S. Patent Nos. 10,893,833
  • PATENT: Ultrahuman is accused of infringing on U.S. Patent Nos. 10,842,429

“Fine,” you might say. All the legal claims made by these tech companies are like that. However, I’ll show you the examples which, to my eyes, appear to be blatant copying. Let’s take them one at a time

COPYRIGHT: Landscape Design

Some of the wording on these two images is identical! OK, Ultrahuman has swapped the ocean for a desert but…even so! the similarities are obvious.

I’m unsure how much of that image comes from standard Instagram/iPhone features

COPYRIGHT: 3D Ring Image

So this claim is about the copying of a published image and not the product itself.

The image is very similar, I guess Ultrahuman could argue that many companies display the components of their products taken apart like this.


COPYRIGHT: Copyrighted User Interface Design


This claim is about wholesale copying of Oura’s (excellent) app. Clearly, parts of the following 5 images are very, very (very) similar. But then Ultrahuman might argue that its depiction of, for example, the sleep stages is similar to the depictions made by numerous other companies in the same industry. Was Oura the first to display it like this? A: I don’t know. However, I suspect that Oura’s line of argument will be that the entirety of the look and feel is copied in the images shown.

I would be sympathetic to such a view.




U.S. Patent Nos. 10,893,833

This brings us to Oura’s Patent “833” which is as follows

Upon closer reading you can see that Oura is not ‘copyrighting the ring’ but rather the method of construction of a smart ring. So the argument probably lies in that it’s more than simply having an inner and outer surface on a ring but rather that the design of the cavity and its construction/assembly is essential for a SMART ring. And, of course, Oura was the first smart ring (at least to my knowledge).


U.S. Patent Nos. 10,842,429

Finally, we have Oura’s Patent “429”

This patent seems to be about determining a readiness score and sleep periods from a) movement and b) HRV, followed by presenting an interpretation of readiness in software.

I’m less sure about the general merits of this claim, although would concede that Oura was the first to apply this all to a ring. That’s probably why Oura use the word METHOD to restrict its claim to rings.

If Oura is claiming to capture movement and HRV during sleep then companies that came before them did that. EMFIT immediately springs to mind.

If Oura is patenting a readiness score then, as I’ve said on this blog several times, there is no such thing as “readiness”, in a scientific sense and no accepted definition of it AFAIK.

Nightly HRV vs baseline HRV calculations are more about how the body is handling the pressures of life not about readiness per se. However, there is a broad agreement by many companies in the space about how to take the HRV averages and what baseline to compare them to – examples include the calculations by MarcoAltini’s in HRV4Training

Companies like Garmin have also provided insights about READINESS in its Morning Report. This report breaks down Garmin’s flavour of READINESS into what Garmin considers to be its constituent parts, of which HRV is one.

Love ❤️ It – Garmin Morning Report



Oura also accuses Ultrahuman of,

hiring former Oura employees, soliciting current Oura engineers, and potentially benefiting from some of its primary investors gaining access to Oura’s proprietary and confidential information prior to launch of the Ultrahuman Ring.

Ultrahuman – Potential/Generic Defences

Ultrahuman broadly have 8 ways to defend each specific claim against them

  1. Non-Infringement
  2. The invalidity of the Patents: For example, it could be proved that the patents were not novel even though they were granted
  3. Lack of Standing: ie Oura didn’t own the IP
  4. License or Permission: Ultrahuman somehow had permission
  5. Independent Development: The defendant may claim that they independently developed the technology in question without any knowledge of the plaintiff’s patents or copyrighted works.
  6. Prior Art: The technology in question was known or used by others before the filing date of the asserted patents. 
  7. Fair Use (for Copyright):
  8. Unclean Hands or Misconduct: by the plaintiff during the patent filing process.




Take Out

At first glance, Ultrahuman appears to have blatantly and possibly deliberately infringed Oura’s IP. However non-legal experts like you and I often fall into the “logic trap of understanding” in that we assume that what seems to be morally wrong is wrong and the law will logically agree with us.

The devil will almost certainly be in the details.

Potential smart ring manufacturers have the certainty that Oura will defend its IP rights 🙂


Source: Case: 2:23-cv-396 via The Next Web.



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8 thoughts on “Ultrahuman copies Oura – a new lawsuit

  1. I don’t know. The analogy is really to a watch case with an optical sensor on the back that you wear on your arm. There are many companies building versions of that concept with and without a display. The fundamental concept is just miniaturization to a ring.

    The analytics dashboards that Oura has seem to be substantially similar to other oHR-based health trackers across the wearable industry and not particularly innovative to Oura.

    The most egregious thing is closely copying the marketing presentation strategy and trade dress, but frankly Samsung and Huawei do that to Apple all the time.

    It costs a lot of money to litigate this stuff. Apple v Samsung ultimately achieved nothing and revealed a lot of internal documents.

    Copyright of user interface design is very hard to enforce.

    Patents for something obvious like a hollow ring with a circuit board inside probably should never have been awarded. Did you know the original purpose of patents was the opposite of how they are litigated today? It was to encourage the disclosure of proprietary technology to ensure dissemination and copying of innovative technology throughout industry. The carrot is a brief period of a legal monopoly over the technology. Now what constitutes a patentable idea is hopelessly remote from that. They are a vehicle to sue your competitors to protect your market position.

    As a gross over-generalization, I don’t like to see companies competing by litigation. It tends to mean the management has lost their cool or they are having trouble competing in the free market.

    1. yes the fundamental thing must be the miniaturisation and repurposing to a ring. effectively/legally a new product category
      Polar copied Apple’s format of presentation used for the Watch features. But I think with the Oura case the argument might come down to ‘Passing Off’ Ultrahuman as Oura, that’s how it would be in the UK and I assume USA is similar?

      I don’t like to see the litigation either but only because it stops or deters new entrants. companies must have a right to defend IP … take a large part of the Chinese industrial success as an example of IP infringement or theft. And that might ultimately lead to a significant decline of the West and ou lifestyles, so i’ts not to be sniffed at

      1. The trade draws infringement and market confusion argument is a thing. That was the but of Apple v Samsung which they won in US courts but was vacated by the Supreme Court. Contrariwise, I think Samsung won in South Korean courts.

        In the end both sides sent a small nation worth of cash on lawyers and legal fees. And the discovery process led to the disclosure of a lot of internal design and process information. Only the lawyers win in the end.

        These companies are relatively tiny. It seems like a bad sign.

        To me many of the claims from Oura seem extraordinary week. For example the Airdrop message wording is identical because Apple generates everything except the quoted product name. The actual product images are totally different and only bear a similarity in being a ring in some kind of a natural setting. I’m certain that Oura cannot have IP over the concept of a ring or a ring photographed outdoors. The call it “infringing landscape design” but it is not even a landscape. It’s zen stones in water. Copyright is for a specific image and does not protect the concept of making similar images. Trade dress is the design language of a product which is IP and does protect branding but is hard to litigate — especially for something as generic and ancient as an unadorned ring.

        Oura did not invent the concept of exploded product diagrams. The products have similar parts because it’s obvious that a circuit board has to be inside the ring case and the part of the ring against the skin has to be transparent in order to have LED light pass through.

        I think Oura wants to own the concept of a “smart ring” and that just cannot be allowed to stand. It’s innovative work but also obvious miniaturization of the exact same concept as an arm band or watch which is prior art.

        This seems like an emotional reaction like Apple v Microsoft where Jobs was furious at Gates for “stealing” the ideas Apple had “stolen” from Xerox Parc.

      2. that sounds plausible and i’m sure Oura want to own the SMART Ring Concept. It’ll be interesting to see if and how they can take on Samsung’s ring which must be either released or soon to be released.
        not sure about this bit “miniaturization of the exact same concept as an arm band or watch which is prior art.” i’m not sure it is exactly the same in terms of how and where the reading is made and the design required to make those readings. I’d agree it was a similar concept…perhaps used in a more novel way 😉

  2. When I say miniaturization of the same concept, I mean a ring is fundamentally photoplethysmography which has been applied as prior art to arm bands, watches and finger clip-on devices and other shapes that will work when pressed against flesh pulsating with blood flow.

    There is also a temperature sensor, which gathers skin temp. This is not ground breaking.

    I think there is a something like a 9-axis solid state motion sensor like a stryd or running watch has which can be used to attempt to infer different types of physical activity or sleep stages. Again this is pre-existing technology.

    The only new thing was really packaging it into a tiny ring with enough power and memory to be worn untethered for a long time and collect a log of data which can wirelessly transfer to a smart phone. From there there is a lot of competition in a cloud service that makes charts and graphs of the HR and skin temperature data, etc.

    That is not to diminish Oura at all. Bringing that to market was hard.

    I just don’t buy the copyright and patent claims.

    1. pre-existing tech applied in a novel way is patentable tho, right? as are methods.

      yeah going back 3 or 4 years or whatever it was, it was defintiely a ground breaking product. I remember seeing the uglier earlier version at the Wearables show at Excel in London and eventually got one. It stood out at the time. which even if you know zip about patents, amkes you think it ought to be patentable. but, perhaps like stryd, if you can corner the market for a certain agglomeration of tech on a certain body part then you can make some money. In Oura’s case they can make LOTS of money…tens and tens of millions (more like hundreds edit:https://the5krunner.com/2022/04/07/oura-is-worth-2-55billion-yes-really/ ). they’re quite a big company with a lot to protect from their one product

  3. I just got an email stating I can use FSA account (tax free savings for health/medical use) to purchase an Oura ring.

    I’ve always been interested in one of these but have held off because it doesn’t integrate into any of the ecosystems I currently use (Garmin, Stryd, SportTracks) for fitness/training. Now effectively getting a substantial discount makes me even more interested.

    Have there been any meaningful improvements to entice me further, or are the below existing features just good enough that they’re worth it even in a standalone ecosystem?

    – Sleep tracking
    – HRV
    – Body temperature
    – Steps/floors/etc

    1. if you just see the standalone benefits of oura as being good outside of sport and thats what you are looking for then go for it.
      productsd like this will never (hardly ever) pus data into garmin connect….but it should link to non proprietary platforms? ive not looked for ages

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